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Otokomi Lake

Trail Features: Alpine Lake, Waterfalls Otokomi Lake
Trail Location: Rising Sun
Roundtrip Length: 10.8 Miles
Total Elevation Gain: 2180 Feet
Avg. Elev Gain / Mile: 404 Feet
Highest Elevation: 6590 Feet
Trail Difficulty Rating: 15.16 (strenuous)
Parking Lot Latitude 48.69481
Parking Lot Longitude -113.51932

Trail Description:

The hike to Otokomi Lake begins from the Rose Creek Trailhead at Rising Sun, located 5.5 miles west of the Saint Mary Entrance Station on the Going-To-The-Sun Road. The trailhead is located on the west side of the General Store.

The first third-of-a-mile along the Rose Creek Trail skirts around the rental cabins at Rising Sun. After construction began in 1940, this area of the park was originally known as the "East Glacier Auto Camp". Because there were two locations using the name "East Glacier" at that time, the citizens of Glacier Park Station, where Glacier Park Lodge is located, successfully petitioned the National Park Service in 1950 to have the name officially changed to East Glacier Park. In the fall of that same year the East Glacier Auto Camp was renamed Rising Sun.

Beyond the cabins the trail begins making a relatively steep climb over the course of the next half-mile. While passing through a fairly dense conifer forest, hikers may also notice several varieties of berries, including several thimbleberry patches.

As you proceed higher along the southern slopes of 7935-foot Otokomi Mountain, you'll begin traveling high above a gorge in the Rose Creek valley below. Fortunately you'll have intermittent vantage points along the way that will allow you to take in this rather impressive canyon. You'll also have occasional views of the surrounding mountains throughout this section as well.

Roughly 2.25 miles from the trailhead hikers will reach a series of five waterfalls flowing down Rose Creek. Although you won't actually pass next to the falls, you'll still have a nice view of them from the trail. Beyond this point the trail passes several more waterfalls and cascades, some you'll be able to see, and others you'll only be able to hear. Walk another three-quarters of a mile and you'll reach another sizeable waterfall, one that appears to drop at least 30 feet or so. Look for a short side trail that will provide a much better vantage point.

Rose Creek waterfallsRose Creek waterfalls

In this same general vicinity the trail begins to pass through some relatively tall vegetation. This is a good place to make a lot of noise in order to avoid a surprise encounter with a bear.

At 4.3 miles the trail begins to open up, allowing you to see your destination towards the left. Look for the deep red rocks in the heart of the cirque at the end of the valley. Sitting in the basin just below that cirque is Otokomi Lake.

At 4.8 miles you'll finally emerge from the forest and into the great wide open. From here the path crosses a large talus field, as well as a couple of avalanche chutes.

Otokomi LakeRoughly 5.3 miles from the trailhead hikers will arrive at the Otokomi Lake Campground (which contains three individual campsites). From here the lake is reached by following Rose Creek for another tenth-of-a-mile. This section of trail seemingly passes through some excellent moose habitat. With visibility impeded by tall vegetation, small trees and willows, you may want to be extra careful through this area so as to not surprise one. We did see a large bull moose about a half-mile below the lake.

There isn't much of a beach area at the end of the trail, but there is a narrow side trail that veers off towards the right. However, the best views of the lake are from the left side. Just prior to reaching the lake there's a series of stepping stones that allow hikers to cross the creek. From the left side of the lake the red argillite cliffs will provide the perfect scenic backdrop the lake is best known for.

The lake is named after Otokomi, a part Blackfoot Indian who accompanied George Bird Grinnell on his early expeditions in the Glacier region. Otokomi in the Blackfeet language means "Yellow Fish". Otokomi's English name was Rose, from which the names Rose Basin and Rose Creek are derived.